There is an interview code held by Human Resources professionals that can make or break you. And that code has to do with giving you tough interview questions and seeing how well you field them. Such questions may be asked by an HR rep or someone else along the job interview chain. These questions include the job specific, but can also include questions universally asked of all job candidates. You can crack the tough interview code, provided that you’re prepared to answer each question carefully and accurately.
Explain yourself — Before the tough questions are asked, likely you’ll be thrown a soft question to help you relax and answer the follow-up questions. Don’t dismiss the importance of the “So, tell me about yourself” question as bumbling your answer can sink your interview. You can answer by sharing some personal things about yourself including your interests, educational background, work experience and life events that have prepared you for the job. Avoid the political and the overt religious when answering; do not ramble either.
Your last job — Early on in the interview, you can expect to be asked, “Why did you leave you last job?” Take care here especially if you are currently out of work. If you were laid off, explain that your company cut back and let go of “X” number of workers. That way, you can demonstrate that you weren’t singled out. If you left because you were terminated, you’ll need to explain the reasons why. Unless you were terminated for fraud or for incompetence, your reason may not be held against you. Still, you may need to explain that “the position was beyond my area of expertise, therefore I am looking for a position that is in line with what I can do.” You’ll want to emphasize that you’re looking for a “good fit” for you whereas the previous position was not the best one.
Your future, your career — “Where do you see yourself in three, five or 10 years?” This question is asked to gauge your potential loyalty to the new company. If your plans are to grow with the company, then say so. If you’re looking at the job as a steppingstone to something else or a career change, then keep those plans to yourself. Emphasize your professional goals over your personal goals advises Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., and Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. of Quintessential Careers.
Previous employers and supervisors — You may have worked for the boss from hell, but you can never let on to your interviewer that someone you worked with was a problem for you. This question, “Tell me about the worst supervisor you ever had,” is a trap to be avoided. Don’t go down this path or you will ensure that you won’t be hired. Instead, you can state that you’ve learned to work with a variety of management styles and have identified those styles you work with best. Said Amanda Hart, a student at Chatham University, “Even bad bosses have something to teach us, and this is the kind of awareness your future employer will be glad to see.” So very true.
Your liabilities, your assets — Expect two questions to be raised about your weaknesses and strengths. One might include, “Tell me about your weaknesses.” Instead of emphasizing the generic such as you “work too hard” or you “can’t play chess,” address a skill that you have learned that was once your weakness. You’ll want to demonstrate that you’ve acquired a particular skill, such as creating spreadsheets, and are looking forward to putting this skill to work at your new job. That new skill can be perceived as an asset, nevertheless, you may be asked — “What talents will you bring to the company?” or “Why should we hire you?” You’ll need to gauge an area of need the company needs to have met and how you can fill that need.
So, why the tough interview questions? That’s easy — to weed out the weaker candidates. This method isn’t full proof as some people interview better than others. Nonetheless, your mastery of the tough interview code can raise the chances that you’ll be hired, so think out your answers before you go to the interview, developing responses that demonstrate you are the woman or man to be hired.
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